United States President Joe Biden has condemned a terrorist attack near the Kabul airport that killed scores of people, including at least 13 American service members, pledging to retaliate against the attackers and continue evacuations.
“To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay. These American service members who gave their lives — that’s an overused word, but it’s totally appropriate here — were heroes; heroes who’ve been engaged in a dangerous, selfless mission to save the lives of others. They’re a part of an airlift and evacuation effort, unlike any seen in history. We will not be deterred by terrorists. We’ll not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuation. I’ve also ordered my commanders to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership and facilities. “We will respond with force and precision at our time, at the place we choose and the moment of our choosing. Here’s what you need to know: These ISIS terrorists will not win. We will rescue the Americans in there. We will get our Afghan allies out, and our mission will go on. America will not be intimidated.”
Biden spoke after the US military sustained one of its highest single-day tolls during its 20-year Afghanistan campaign.
The bombs were set off near a crowd of families at the airport gates who were desperately hoping to make one of the last evacuation flights out. Gunfire was reported in the aftermath of the explosions.
Biden said he had asked his commanders to find ways to target ISIS-K, the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for the attacks earlier in the day on behalf of its loyalists in Afghanistan.
He vowed the US would respond with force at “a moment of our choosing,” echoing President Bush’s remarks days after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
“This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others; it will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing,” Bush said, weeks before the US military began fighting in Afghanistan.
Biden spoke from the East Room of the White House shortly after the Pentagon confirmed the deaths of the American service members in what officials said were suicide bomber attacks.
He called Thursday “a tough day” and pledged that the United States would uphold its “sacred obligation” to the families of the fallen.
The night before the attack, a senior US official warned of a “specific” and “credible” threat at the airport by an affiliate of the Islamic State — the Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K — and Western governments began urging people to leave the area.
Even with such a specific warning, military officials said, it would be very difficult to pick out a suicide bomber with a concealed explosive vest in a huge throng of people, like that at the airport.
The troops who died Thursday were the first American service members killed in Afghanistan since February 2020. For the US military, it was a day with more deaths than any other since 2011.
Those deaths were just the kind of military loss Biden has repeatedly said he was trying to avoid by ending America’s 20-year war in the country.
Acting against the advice of his generals and overruling some of his top foreign policy advisers, Biden made the decision in April that he could not ask more American troops — or their families — to sacrifice themselves for a war that he no longer believed was in the best interests of the United States or its allies.
The President has said that he did not want to call the parents of another Marine, soldier or airman killed in action in Afghanistan.
But the rapid takeover of the country by the Taliban caught the administration off-guard and set in motion a chaotic evacuation in which 6,000 American troops attempted to secure the Kabul airport against the Taliban and terror groups. Earlier this week, Biden rejected calls from lawmakers, activists and other world leaders to extend the American presence at the airport past Aug. 31, citing the potential for terrorist attacks.
The Pentagon said at least 13 US service members were killed and 15 wounded in the attack near an airport gate on Thursday. Scores of Afghan civilians were killed and wounded.
Two suicide bombers struck a packed crowd outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Thursday, killing 13 American service members and scores of Afghan civilians, officials said.
“We have other active threats against the airfield,” General McKenzie told reporters at a news conference in Washington.
The Islamic State released a statement claiming responsibility for the attack.
Biden and other US officials insisted that the carnage and continued danger would not halt the American-led airlift that, after a belated and rocky start, has ferried more than 100,000 people out of Afghanistan in the last two weeks. Many of those were Afghans who had worked with NATO forces and their families, and who feared Taliban reprisals and hoped to start new lives in other parts of the world.
New York Times
Everything is the opposite yet Nigeria not a complete disaster – Soyinka
Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, has said Nigerians are still managing to eke out a living despite the bleak realities confronting the country.
Soyinka spoke during an interview with the Cable News Network monitored by our correspondent.
Commenting on the ironic title for his first novel in 48 years, Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth, he said things happened around one as one grew up, witnessing the degrading of dream and environment in one’s society and on the continent.
He explained that for him, the issue had been an arduous journey, adding, “It has reached such a stage, I found intuitively, that only prose fiction can handle things that have been bubbling up inside me.”
He said the title came after some people some years ago conducted a poll which placed Nigeria among the top four happiest nations in the world.
The playwright noted, “That thing has been with me, in my head. I asked, ‘Who are these people? What do they know? What have they seen? What have they experienced in Nigeria that they make such an attribution?’ That title really has been waiting to answer that claim in many ways. When you look at the surroundings, everything is the opposite and yet, Nigeria is not a complete disaster.
“People still manage to eke out a living not only a living but to some extent a dignified and satisfied living. I think it’s not surface appearance of contentment or making the best of a really bad job, insisting that no matter what life must go on… It’s that which needed to be, quote and unquote, celebrated in addition to the bleak actualities.”
The elder statesman further said he took the decision to change his former relationship if Donald Trump was elected president of the United States despite “being literally an enemy of decency and humanity’’ and his blatantly discontent for non-white humanity.
He stated, “I never really totally turned my back on the United States. I mean how could one? We have many Nigerians there, to start with. When I stroll through the streets of the United States, I sometimes think the United States is an extension of Nigeria, that it’s part of our diaspora.” That’s not an easy decision but it was inevitable.”
Commenting on the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to Tanzanian novelist, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Soyinka said his immediate statement after the announcement was “let the African tribe expand wherever situated.”
Insecurity: Royal Navy Warship arrives in Lagos
The Royal Navyship, HMS TRENT has arrived Lagos State as part of its three months deployment to the Gulf of Guinea.
The HMS TRENT and her contingent of Royal Marines from 42 Commando are on a three-month deployment to the Gulf of Guinea.
Port of Lagos is the second stop for HMS TRENT since departing Gibraltar in October.
The Royal Navy War ship was recieved by the United Kingdom, UK, Deputy High Commissioner in Lagos, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, at a reception on Saturday.
According to Llewellyn-Jones: “Nigeria’s security and prosperity matters to the UK. The Royal Navy is here because the UK is a committed partner for Nigeria and the wider West African region.
“We will continue to work with the Nigerian authorities to address illegal activity; improve maritime security; counter-piracy and tackle the Illegal Wildlife Trade.
“To do this we will draw on the experience we have of cross and multi-agency co-operation in the UK to promote peace, development, and prosperity.”
The ship’s company of HMS Trent have a packed schedule of events, including various capability demonstrations and training, with 42 Commando delivering their specific Vessel Boarding, Search and Seizure training to the Nigerian Navy.
In addition, members of the ship’s company will also step ashore with a charity beach clean as well as attending the Maritime Security Conference at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA).
Also speaking, HMS Trent’s Commanding Officer, Commander Thomas Knott said: “As Trent made her way to the Gulf of Guinea my crew honed their skills in Maritime Security Operations and commenced Counter Illicit Activity Patrols.
“Piracy, Narcotics and broader criminal activities in this region demand that my Royal Navy Sailors and Royal Marine Commando Force are always ready to respond, from Boarding Operations through to lifesaving assistance at sea.”
Boarding exercises are vital integration training for the newly embarked Royal Marines, who joined at the start of HMS Trent’s patrol of the Gulf of Guinea.
42 Commando will perform a key role as part of the ship’s company of HMS Trent, training partner forces across the region and helping to develop their capabilities.
The three-month deployment will see the ship travel around the Gulf of Guinea, visiting countries including Ghana, Senegal, and Gambia.
Alongside their commitments to conduct joint exercises and train with partners in the region, HMS Trent will also conduct maritime security patrols and promote the UK’s position as co-president at the G7++ Friends of Gulf of Guinea conference in November.
FG considering posthumous pardon for Ken Saro-Wiwa, others – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari says the Federal Government is considering a state pardon for nine Ogoni leaders/activists convicted and hanged by the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha 26 years ago for opposing the operating practices of the Royal Dutch Shell Oil Corporation.
The Ogoni Nine are author and playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel and John Kpuine, They were executed on November 10, 1995.
Buhari gave the hint when he had an audience with some leaders and people of Ogoni land at the State House, according to a statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
According to the President Buhari, despite the gravity of the circumstances, the Federal Government will consider the request to grant them pardon and bring closure to the case.
He said: “Furthermore, we are committed to ensuring clemency and national integration as part of this administration’s bid to lay the foundation for genuine reconciliation and bring closure to the issues of Ogoni Land.
“The unfortunate incidents of the early 1990s leading to the loss of lives of distinguished sons of Ogoni land and the collateral judicial processes are indelible in our memories.
“Despite the grievous circumstances, the Federal Government will consider the request for the grant of pardon to finally close the Ogoni saga,’’
President Buhari urged the Ogoni leaders to sensitize indigenes on value of protecting national assets like pipelines and other oil installations, saying willful damages usually create more havoc on their environment and hamper development in the area.
He also noted that the Federal Government is committed to the cleaning up of Ogoni land so that indigenes can regain their lives, return to farms and reactivate economic activities.
“You will need to educate the people of Ogoni land and the region more, that when pipelines are broken, the damage is more to the immediate environment and the people. The majority farmers and fishermen struggle because the fishes now move to the deep sea,’’ he said.
The President observed that bad industry practices coupled with security challenges had resulted in massive spills with attendant environmental degradation of Ogoni, leading to agitations and strife.
He said the government would bring to a close all pending issues on sons of Ogoni land.
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